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"My job is to be a servant": Denver Rescue Mission celebrates new leadership

Denver Rescue Mission celebrates new leadership
Denver Rescue Mission celebrates new leadership 02:25

CBS Colorado is partnered with the Denver Rescue Mission to Spread the Warmth this winter.  As homelessness increases across the Metro Area, the Denver Rescue Mission is more important than ever. Right now, a new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is getting settled into his new role.


"I think that my job is to be a servant," said Dennis Van Kampen, the new CEO of the Denver Rescue Mission told CBS News Colorado Anchor Michael Spencer.

He didn't hesitate to roll up his sleeves and serve up meals at the Denver Rescue Mission's Lawrence Street Community Center.

"The first thing that I think we have to do is we have to see everyone as a human being," Van Kampen said.

He believes in seeing the value in every person, especially when they're at their lowest moment.

"It's impossible to pull yourself up by your boot straps if you don't have boots or your straps are broken," he said.

For 130 years, the Denver Rescue Mission has been coming along side men experiencing homelessness. They're experts in sheltering and recover programs.


"I think the Denver Rescue Mission needs to keep doing what it's always done, which is to treat people with the compassion of Christ, to see them and accept them for who they are, but then to walk forward with them," Van Kampen explained.

"What do you see as the Challenges facing the Denver Rescue Mission?" Spencer asked.

"Homelessness used to be hidden and somewhat manageable, and now we find that homelessness is no longer hidden or manageable," he replied.

Last year, the Rescue Mission provided more than one-million meals nearly half-a-million nights of shelter, and got more than 55 people into housing.

"I'm an optimist. I firmly believe that our community, including Denver, we have the resources that we need to really turn the needle back on homelessness," Van Kampen said.


As the landscape changes in terms of homelessness across the city, Van Kampen believes a coordinated approach among service organizations is needed.

"No organization can or should try to do everything," he said.

In 5 to 10 years, he hopes to see fewer people becoming homeless and even fewer staying in homelessness.

"I really think we need to work together as a community in prevention and diversion, particularly with families with children," Van Kampen explained.

LINK: Spread the Warmth

You can help Spread the Warmth this winter by supporting the Denver Rescue Mission. They need warm clothing as well as monetary donations.

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